washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Economic Dynamism = Democrats

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Economic Dynamism = Democrats

Yes, there is a magic formula for generating Democrats. It’s called economic dynamism. And the formula for generating Republicans, particularly Trumpian ones, is exactly the reverse: economic stagnation and decline.

Ron Brownstein picks up on a just-released report by Brookings and the /Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on innovation jobs and economic growth. “Just 20 large metropolitan areas now account for a clear majority of the nation’s jobs in the 13 high-productivity industries that the authors identify as the nation’s most innovative.”

Brownstein connects this development to recent political trends:

“Correlating the study’s findings with the results of the 2016 presidential election captures the enormity of that shift. In the 5% of metropolitan areas that have attracted the largest number of these cutting edge jobs — a list of 20 communities that includes New York, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle — Hillary Clinton won 59% of the vote and routed Trump by 11.5 million ballots, according to calculations provided by Brookings. Just those 20 thriving metropolitan areas provided her over 28 million votes — more than two-fifths of her total.

In the next 5% of metro areas that have attracted the most of these high-innovation jobs — a group that includes Pittsburgh, Orlando, Charlotte, Nashville, Austin and Portland — Clinton beat Trump by about eight percentage points, or roughly 1.2 million votes. In all, these two groups of thriving urban areas — the 40 communities that comprise the 10 percent of American metros that have generated the most of these highly-innovative jobs — provided Clinton over 36 million votes, fully 55% of her total.

In the metros that ranked between the 10th and 25th percentile for the number of these high-innovation jobs, Trump squeezed out a narrower advantage of about 200,000 votes, or half a percentage point. He beat Clinton soundly by 3.4 million votes in the remaining 75% of metro areas with the smallest numbers of these coveted jobs. Trump also won comfortably in the smaller communities that are not included in the nation’s roughly 400 metropolitan areas.

These stark findings reinforce the results of other studies over the past few years that show Democrats growing stronger in the places generating the most economic growth and Republicans solidifying their hold on the places displaying less dynamism. Brookings had found that although Clinton won fewer than a sixth of the nation’s counties in 2016, her counties generate almost two-thirds of the nation’s GDP.

Another recent Brookings study found that the average Congressional district held by Democrats now generates 50% more economic output than the typical district held by Republicans. Productivity per worker and the median income is now also substantially higher in the Democratic than the Republican districts.”

So there you have it. Want more Democrats? Figure out how to spread economic dynamism beyond the large metro areas where it is currently thriving. If not, Democrats will win some elections but they will not achieve the governing majorities they really need to move the country forward.

One comment on “Teixeira: Economic Dynamism = Democrats

  1. Victor on

    The moment millennials start seeing the suburbs again as culturally and economically attractive and/or the moment corporations once again decide to start moving jobs out of bigger cities we will repeat the cycle of the 1970s-80s.

    With the rising cost of living, specially due to housing, and inequities in education this moment may not be too far away. Be careful what you wish for.

    People’s political predilections are often shaped by who their neighbors are. Hispanics in purple communities are not a reliable Democratic constituency, for example.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.